A good lightweight game should be light in almost every possible way: inexpensive, portable, colorful, pleasantly themed, quick-playing, low complexity, and playable at any skill level. Here are the games from 2019 that slid as easily into our lunch breaks as they did our game nights.
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2019 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday January 17th when we announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Diamond Climber Awards.
Point salad is no longer just for big, Euro games or Stefan Feld designs. This year we saw this term turned into a cheeky board game about scoring vegetable points in various ways. In Point Salad, players select vegetables from an open market to add to their tableau, while also collecting cards which score these veggies. Like many light games, Point Salad is quick to learn. It also plays up to 6 and works well with every player count.
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Designers: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Artist: Dylan Mangini
Read our review of Point Salad.
Silver & Gold
“Silver & Gold: 100”x”s – 1000 treasures!” This is about as much theme as there is in the game, but that doesn’t matter because it’s so much fun. Silver & Gold is a game in the roll and write genre. Each turn a polyomino shape is revealed and players must cross off spaces which match this shape on one of their treasure maps. The cool thing about Silver & Gold is that the cards need to be written on. It feels so wrong, but at the same time, oh so right.
Publishers: Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag, Pandasaurus Games
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artist: Oliver Freudenreich
Read our review of Silver & Gold.
This weekend you decide to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and head out of town. The only problem is the other citizens of Zoo Town have the same idea. Traffic Jam is a quick-playing, hand management, action selection board game in which players simultaneously choose a time of day and vehicle for their departure. Cards can be played to mess with other players, hopefully creating undesirable traffic—but players have to be careful because some vehicles actually thrive on heavy traffic. For such a light game, there is a lot to consider each turn in a game of Traffic Jam.
Publishers: Brain Picnic, Zacatrus
Designer: Paco Gómez
Artist: Ramón Redondo
If you think Sushi Go is a delightful light game, then Sushi Roll won’t disappoint. The sushi cards have been traded in for sushi dice, which players draft each round from a cardboard conveyor belt that passes from player to player. Sushi Roll is just as easy to pick up and plays in about the same time as Sushi Go, yet feels different enough that both could happily earn a place on a game shelf.
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artist: Nan Rangsima
In Letter Jam, players work cooperatively to try to deduce the letters which are in front of them, yet facing away from themselves. Players give each other word clues created using the visible letters. For example, a clue might be “WE?T” with the question mark indicating the letter in front of a player that they cannot see. From here, the player goes through the alphabet to figure out which letter could be in the place of the question mark. Letter Jam skirts the line between a strategy game and a party game because of all the laughs and fun that players will have around the table.
Publisher: Czech Games Edition
Designer: Ondra Skoupý
Artists: Dávid Jablonovský, František Sedláček, Lukáš Vodička, Michaela Zaoralová
Read our review of Letter Jam.
In Draftosaurus players draft dinosaurs to add to their dino park, trying to attract the most visitors. Instead of cards, players are passing and drafting from a handful of fun-coloured dino meeples. It’s a wonderfully quick, yet strategic game and a perfect introduction to the drafting mechanism.
Designers: Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, Théo Rivière
Artists: Jiahui Eva Gao, Vipin Alex Jacob
Read our review of Draftosaurus.
Thanks to Ian Howard for the nominee introduction.